Walks in Rome: Route 2

From Via Giulia to Campo de’Fiori

No visito f the eternal city is complete without a tour of Via Giulia, once called “Rome’s drawing room”. This itinerary will walk you down the most famous sixteenth-century troughfare in the city, past antique shops and art galleries whose fame almost equals that of the Renaissance palaces lining the street. The route continues to Palazzo farnese and its magnificent square, Campo de’ Fiori and its picturesque open-air-market. From the broad, straight streets of the 1500s, we then make our way through a tortuous network of narrow alleys built mostly in the Middle Ages. Often the pre-existent Roman ruins in which this area abounds obliged the streets to follow strange, otherwise inexplicable routes. The neighbourhood built on the top of the Theatre of Pompei, where Julius Caesar was murdered is affine example. This whole area has a dual appearance; on one hand the presence of fine aristocratic palaces gives it the look of a flashy residential neighbourhood, on the other the Ancient University of Rome fostered a commercial and cultural life that still thrives today.

We shall begin this walk by first taking a look to the splendid Church of S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini . Some of the most famous architects of the sixteenth century ha dbid for the projects of this church. Now we’ll go down Via Giulia, the great street desired by Pope Giulio II, who gave it its name. We immediately see Palazzo Sacchetti, of the more beautiful pieces of civil architecture in the street. We pass in front of what should have become the Palazzo dei Tribunali, but are only the remnents of a few stone seats, called yhe famous “sofas” of Via Giulia. If we take a small detour to the left, parallel, to Via dei Banchi Vecchi, we can see a small sixteenth century decorative work of art on the façade of Casa Crivelli, called “the puppet house”: A little farther on we’ll pass the Church of S:Lucia del Gonfalone, and arrive in a square, which strangely enough is called “vicolo” (alley) della Moretta. If you read the nearby plaque, you will discover why. By walking up Via Monserrato we’ll arrive in Piazza de’Ricci, where, besides finding a good restaurant, we’ll find a famous Renaissance building. Pass this and cross Via Giulia again I order to take Via S.Eligio a little further on. At the end of this street you’ll find a wonderful church dedicated to this saint. Now go back to Via Giulia where you’ll find the Church of Santa Caterina da Siena, Palzzo Falconieri, presently the seat of the Hungarian Academy, and the macabre Church di S. Maria dell’Orazione e Morte. You are now at the back of the most beautiful Renaissance building of Rome, Palazzo Farnese,the façade of which you will discover later on. Continue down the street, passing the Mascherone Fountain, and at the end of the street, after having seen the havoc made in the last century in the square presently named Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti, turn left into Via dei Pettinari.. After having passed S.Salvatore in Onda, youll reach the Church della Trinità dei Pellegrini. You’ve reached the heart of the quarter, and are about to beginthe central part of this walk. Take Via Capo di Ferro and you’ll find yourself in front of Palazzo Spada, a masterpiece of architectural decoration. Enter the main door and go and see the extraordinary optical illusion created by Borromini in his Galleria Prospettica. Walk a few more metres and you’ll be in Piazza Farnese in front of a building with the same name. Just two more steps and you’ll be welcomed by Campo de’Fiori and its picturesque scenery. The Palazzo della Cancelleria, with a splendid courtyard by Bramante, is adjoining the square. In the space of one hundred meters there are some of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in the city. Another little gem, the Piccola Farnesina, is in front of the Cancelleria, facing Corso Vittorio. There is a group of buildings which belonged to the Massimo princes a few meters in front of it. We’ll remain on this horrible road, Corso Vittorio, created in the last century after the unity of Italy, and which lacerates the urban layout of the area. The splendid seventeenth century façade of  S.Andrea della Valle, helps the street a bit. After visiting the church, take Via dei Chiavari and pass the suggestive Via di Grottapinta to end up on Via dei Giubbonari. Turn left and you’ll find the Church of San Carlo ai Catinari, and Palazzo Santacroce in the square called Largo Cairoli.